Panzanella is an Italian salad that uses bread and tomatoes as the main ingredients. It is a good way to use up old bread, and it is a nice break from traditional lettuce salads. To me panzanella says "summer." It is so light and refreshing that it is perfect for a hot day.
It was hot the other day, so Miles and I went for a walk along the beach. What a nice departure from being cooped up in the house with postpartum recovery! Finally, it felt like summer. Wanting to keep the feeling of summer going, I went to the store on our way home to pick up some ingredients for panzanella. A couple of pints of raspberry and blood orange sorbets also helped to extend that summery feel.
When I make panzanella I like to combine elements from recipes that I have seen from both Michael Chiarello and Ina Garten.
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 hothouse or 4 Persian cucumbers, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch half moons
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 orange bell pepper, large diced
1/2 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 baguette, ciabatta or other crusty bread, crusts removed and cut into one inch cubes (you need about 6 cups total)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dijion mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat butter and olive oil in large skilled over medium heat. When butter is melted, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bread cubes and toss to combine. Transfer bread cubes to rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Toss with hands to evenly coat the cubes with the cheese. Place in oven and bake until crisped on outside but still slightly soft in the center, about 8-9 minutes, turning once halfway through baking. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the dressing: Whisk all ingredients together to combine. Set aside.
When ready to serve toss vegetables and croutons with dressing.
Notes: Croutons can be made one day in advance. Store in air tight container at room temperature. Dressing can also be made one day in advance and stored in the refrigerator.